Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Voice Concern over City's Budget at Meeting; They Say the Mayor, City Council Can Find More Cuts to Make

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Voice Concern over City's Budget at Meeting; They Say the Mayor, City Council Can Find More Cuts to Make

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

The Jacksonville City Council's Finance Committee has recommended an across-the-board 3 percent cut (about $22 million) to the 2009-10 Jacksonville city budget.

That's not good enough, said some at council vice president Jack Webb's Monday budget town meeting in Mandarin.

"If the taxpayer was my employer and I ran my home the way the city is running this budget, they would run my ... off," said resident Larry Farris. "I would think the city would know what kind of income they would have."

Webb and at-large council member Stephen Joost, who is also finance committee chairman, co-hosted an animated town meeting at Greenland Pines Elementary School to update residents on the budget process. With only days left before the finance committee hands over a recommended final budget to the full council, Webb said he heard "a mixed bag"

of concerns Monday.

"On one hand, there are some people who believe we should cut it all. Does that mean laying off police and fire or eliminating trash pickup - I don't know," Webb said. "On the other hand, there are people who understand that you can't just cut your way out and we need to start plugging revenue leaks. And there are others sensitive to the quality of life issues."

BEYOND THE PROPOSALS

Recent proposals include a $5 million reduction in the city's Information Technology budget, taking more from the proposed $993.8 million budget.

Resident Dottie Boone asked if the city can trim pension plans of city employees like police.

"The pension for 20 years of [police] service at retirement was 60 percent of their gross income," Boone said. "As a retired teacher, I could have taught 40 years and never gotten more than 48.9 percent."

Mayor John Peyton presented a proposed budget to the council July 13, with $41 million in cuts and a 12 percent property tax rate increase, to prevent more cuts. The council voted July 29 to keep the tax rate as is, and the mayor vetoed it. …

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